Fishermen's News - The Advocate for the Commercial Fisherman

By Chris Philips
Managing Editor 

Processing Equipment: Adding Value to Your Catch


December 1, 2018

Marel offers a complete line of processing equipment for a variety of fish products, including salmon. Photo courtesy of Marel.

As catchers and processors compete for market share, every advantage helps. Here comes technology to the rescue, with new systems, software and processes promising to use more of the fish, more efficiently and at a lower cost.

Cabinplant, a Danish company, offers a line of processing equipment including their Vision system, consisting of a camera-operated fish sorting system for an existing filleting line.

The system is designed to monitor product infeed to Baader or VMK filleting machines, and can be used for species such as herring and mackerel. The vision system controls the entire filleting machine, which means that it checks input and output - what goes in, comes out. If the input and output don't match, the line stops.

The system will also try to optimize the amount of fish on the pocket conveyor belonging to the filleting machine. For instance if fish block the feeder to the filleting machine, the outlet gates of the feeder will be opened.

The system operates by taking a picture of each fish to determine if it is the right species, the right size, whole or half fish, and whether it has been placed correctly on the conveyor prior to cutting, etc. Unwanted fish are rejected to waste or sent back into the system if they were rejected due to incorrect positioning on the conveyor.

The company has developed a sardine line that automates much of the labor intensive processing for canned sardines.

Developed in cooperation with a Greek cannery, the new system passes sardines on a conveyor and under a camera that photographs each individual fish. A computer calculates where to cut each sardine and calculates the area of the piece to go in the can. A cutting edge and vacuum suction remove the head, tail and guts, leaving the section for packing. Based on their weight, the sardines are sorted by size and matched up to reach the desired weight of the can, and the fish are packed in the traditional manner.

Cabinplant also offers a line of processing equipment that can be adapted to different uses, including belt conveyance and cooking, and has offices in several countries, including a location in the US in Georgia.

Everything for Salmon

Marel, based in Iceland with offices throughout the world, including Seattle, offers a complete line of processing equipment for a variety of fish products, including whitefish and salmon.

The company's salmon processing equipment can take a fresh-caught salmon through every stage of processing, ending with as much or as little processing as desired, up to and including pin-boned and de-skinned fillets.

Instead of manually de-heading the catch, Marel offers an automatic de-heading system, fed by one operator, that delivers the fish directly into the filleting machine, ensuring a uniform cut and optimizing overall yield.

From there, an automated grading and distribution system can be added, consisting of a gutting area and a packing and distribution area. To remove slime, blood, and bacteria from the salmon, a high water pressure de-slimer rinses the fish.

To weigh the product, Marel offers bench, floor, and hopper scales that can be used as standalone installations or as a part of a complete production management system. The hopper scales are designed to weigh a continuous product flow into batches for packing or yield monitoring.

A secondary process can send fish through one of the company's salmon filleting machines with integrated back and belly trim tools. The height and depth of each fish is measured at the infeed, and the trim cuts are made based on this measurement by two sets of circular knives. The fillets are delivered with the back and belly trimmed according to preselected settings.

Marel was one of the pioneers of pinbone removal, and offers a wide selection of both standard and vacuum pinbone machines for fresh salmon fillets.

The company's skinning machines skin salmon and trout fillets in a variety of ways, ranging from silver skinning to deep skinning, while optimizing the flow of salmon processing lines.

Fillets can be washed prior to packing, freezing, or further handling to rinse off any slime, blood, and any remains from the filleting, trimming, and pinboning processes.

The final product can be sent through an automated and computerized grader to optimize packing performance.

Marel also offers value-added processing systems, including portion cutting, spicing, marinating and slicing.

Pollock Production

For pollock and other fish, Baader, based in Germany with offices in Auburn, Washington, offers a variety of processing machines to do as little or as much as you need to add value to your catch.

The Baader 212 HRF is the company's heading, gutting and filleting machine set up for Alaska pollock and cod, as well as pink salmon.

Operated by two people, the fish are loaded on a belt for infeed to the heading unit. The size of the fish is electronically determined, and the processing tools, moved by stepping motors, are individually controlled for each fish via the host computer. According to its size, the fish is first brought into the optimal position for heading. Heading is performed with a V-cut, which saves as much meat as possible and aids in the possible subsequent roe extraction, since the guts remain intact.

Baader offers a variety of processing machines to do as little or as much as you need to add value to your catch. Photo courtesy of Baader.

Subsequently, the fish are filleted over the total length, without previous tail cut. The controlled V-cut heading filleting without a tail cut result in a maximum fillet yield, but the standard design includes a safety tail cutter that reduces any fish of excessive length to the size required for the trouble-free filleting process.

The heading section of the system is equipped with a roe extraction unit, which can be taken out of operation if desired.

The electronically-controlled roe extraction unit is operated from the standard control panel of the machine. The gentle treatment means the roe membrane generally remains intact. Guts and roe are discharged from the machine for subsequent manual selection.

Baader also offers standalone versions of the 212 including a heading attachment, a heading and positioning attachment and the 212 HR, which provides heading and roe recovery.


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